My Unexpected Paradise

By Jaclyn Percy, senior, major in journalism option in public relations

If you would have asked me four years ago where I was going to go to college, never in a million years would the words “Chico State” have come out of my mouth. I was bound and determined to get the heck out of California and play soccer for the next four years of my life; and my first year I did exactly that, at Metropolitan State College of Denver.

Fast forward through a year of soccer, living in snow, not so pleasant roommates, and loneliness, and the only place I wanted to be was at Chico State: a place close to my friends and family that I had heard such wonderful things about during my year in Denver.

I’ve learned over the course of my college career that life has a way of playing funny tricks. Sometimes the things that you least expect are the things you will cherish forever. Chico State is one of those things I will cherish forever.

This place has been my home for the past three years. A place where I have developed some amazing friendships, found my calling in journalism, and just plain grew up. It has been a place that has opened up so many doors for me and allowed me to become this so-called adult that I am today.

Let me break it down for you… if I never came to Chico State I would never have…

Studied abroad. Chico State has an amazing study abroad program that sends more than 300 students to 34 different countries annually. I was lucky enough to be able to study abroad in Viterbo, Italy for five months, a place that allowed me to become much more culturally conscious and independent. If I can leave one piece of advice with Chico students, study abroad! Trust me, it’s an experience that won’t come easily again after graduation.

Found journalism. I stumbled upon a journalism class my sophomore year. Long story short, I learned what I needed to do with my career. Chico State’s journalism program is wonderful. Between the teachers, courses, clubs, and so forth, this program has fully prepared me for a career in public relations post-college.

Shopped local. Okay, this one may seem clichéd, but it’s true. There is just something about waking up on a Saturday morning and walking down to the Farmers Market to buy produce, flowers, and knick-knacks. Chico is lucky to have such an amazing market and a community who makes it thrive. I have been to a fair share of markets world-wide, and let me just say, there is really something special about Chico’s local market.

And the list goes on…

As I made my way across that stage on Saturday, I remembered all of the good that Chico offered me. This is my way of saying thank you and goodbye. Thanks for all of the memories and experiences and finally, arrivederci.

Jaclyn Percy, the voice behind Chico State’s social media for the spring 2011 semester, is officially signing off.

…And 4 Years Later, Let the Party Begin!

By Dan Hokenson, senior, business administration major with an option in finance

And 4 years later, the adventure is coming to a close. After all the late nights studying at Meriam Library, the hundreds of Scantrons purchased and nervously turned in, and the countless numbers of essays written, it seems that my four-year experience at Chico State is finally coming to an end. On Sunday, May 22nd, I will receive my ticket into the next stage of my life – my BS in Business Administration, with an option in Finance.

I came to Chico State as a transfer student from Butte in 2009. I instantly felt like I was home at Chico State during the first week I attended classes here. I loved how intelligent the professors were, how helpful the advising staff was, and how friendly all the students were. And the best part about Chico State is how beautiful the campus grounds are, and all of the rich history and heritage in the original buildings that are still producing the world’s next leaders today.

My experience at Chico State has been one that I will remember for the rest of my life. The friends I have made up here, who I have shared the struggle of getting through school with, will remain my close friends for the rest of  my life. I will always remember the joy of finishing a semester, and then instantly crossing that semester off in my mind – “Another one down, only 3 more to go!” I eventually stopped thinking about the end; it always made it seem so far away. Once you get into the latter years of your studying, you tend to forget how close you are to the end. All of a sudden, it was September 2010 – only 8 months to go. And now, we are down to only a few days.

Looking back on my time here, I don’t think I would ever do anything differently. I am so grateful for the opportunities that Chico State has provided me. From the Leadership Boot Camp in spring of 2010, to the many career fairs I was able to attend, and the numerous on-campus interviews I have had, Chico State has provided me with the greatest toolbox I could ask for going into the “real world.” I am lucky enough to be one of the ones to already have a job coming out of school, and I owe that to the Chico State Career Center and to Chico State.

I will always remember the first day of each semester, all of the accidental naps at the library in between studying, the satisfaction in getting an A on a test, and the disappointment in getting an F on a test. I will always remember the weekends I spent with my friends downtown, the quiet (but quite hot!) summers in Chico, and the amazing array of colors that engulf Chico during the spring and fall.

And to the graduating class of 2011, congratulations—we finally made it!

BCCER: A Classroom in the Great Outdoors!

Tired of sitting in a classroom? Do you find yourself staring longingly out your dorm room window? Does parking yourself in the library with a laptop on a sunny, spring day make you stir crazy? Get out into Mother Nature’s classroom!

We are exceptionally fortunate in Northern California, and at Chico State, to have access to the spectacularly beautiful and especially well-managed Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve (BCCER). Take the ultimate geologic trip through time and explore the three-million-year-old lahars (volcanic mud and debris flows) from the ancient volcano, Mt. Yana. The resulting Tuscan formation is both beautiful and the source of a great deal of university research. Nurture your inner philosopher and contemplate Thales and the origins of matter as you enjoy the meandering tributary streams and springs that feed the 4.5-mile stretch of Big Chico Creek.

A view from the beautiful BCCER.

Considering a career in biology? The reserve is home to over 140 different wildlife species and more than 600 plant species. For the photographers and animal lovers, several uber-cute Northern Saw-Whet Owls reside in the BCCER year-round! Whether you are a scientist, a student, a photographer, or an outdoor enthusiast, a visit to BCCER will inspire renewed awe for the majesty of the Earth and a deep sense of gratitude for the planet’s finite resources, as well as provide a much needed break from finals.

Both the University and the community at large benefit from BCCER’s goals of protecting the on-site natural resources, supporting (and often funding) research programs, and educating the public via outreach programs. A reserve of this size and diversity provides distinct opportunities to educate people of all ages about sustainable land management, the interconnectedness of ecosystems, and water quality restoration and conservation. At the reserve, there is a hands-on outdoor classroom that promotes delight in and understanding of our planet, ultimately leading to healthy stewardship of natural resources.

The Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve welcomes students and the general public for hiking, wildlife observation, and even limited hunting. Students from Chico State participate in efforts to preserve and restore the land, study the many species of plants and animals that make their home within its acres, and are ultimately inspired to follow careers in sustainable land use by their exposure to this extraordinary location.

The Big Creek Ecological Reserve is where education meets the land – so get outside, breathe some crisp air, get some exercise, and enjoy and appreciate the splendor of the Reserve this spring!

To the Brink and Back

After some of the toughest days of his running career, Ed Hudson returned to the states after finishing the Marathon Des Sables, through the Sahara desert in Morocco, in 60 hours and 14 minutes, 107th in his age group. (See our earlier blog below.)The 151-mile race left Ed with an experience that will stay with him forever—as well as some pretty torn up feet.

I sat down with Ed a couple days after he returned to the states to discuss the Marathon Des Sables. Here is a snippet of our conversation.

Overall, what was the experience like running the Marathon des Sables?

Ed: It was the hardest thing I have ever done, both physically and emotionally. It was just really, really tough; but it was incredible. The logistics, the comradery, you turn into a small town that picks up and moves every morning. I think it will leave a footprint on me for a long time.

Ed with camels in the background - stage two.

What was the toughest moment during the race?

Ed: The second day was incredibly windy. It was just blowing wind probably about 40 miles an hour all day. At the end of the day was when my feet were really starting to get messed up, and I was just a couple of miles from the finish, and I was like, I don’t know if I am going to be able to finish this thing. Everything you hear beforehand is that day three is the really hard day, and I was at the end of day two—like wow, if day three is the really hard day and I’m feeling like this, and have just been buffeted by these winds and the heat and the sand all day… I think that was the toughest moment. Just like, wow, am I going to be able to finish this, because I really wasn’t sure I was going to be able to.

Ed's feet all taped up.

Was there ever a moment when you just wanted to quit? What kept you moving?

Ed: I never wanted to quit; I was just worried I wasn’t going to be able to [finish]. Different things kept me going. At one point, I knew it was going to be hard, but I had to just keep going. In the beginning it was, wow, I don’t want to come back having not done this. How do you explain that to people? They aren’t going to get how tough this thing is. After the end of day two, I got up the morning of day three and just said, okay, just focus on today, just focus on the next check point, focus on just getting through this moment. Don’t think about the long stage, don’t think about tomorrow, just focus on one step in front of the other.

Hiking up a sand dune in the Moroccan desert.

What was the most memorable moment during the race?

Ed: There were a lot of memorable moments. At the end of the long stage, which was 51 miles, I thought to myself that I can normally run a 10K in 44 minutes. So I got to the last checkpoint in the long stage, and I had 10k left to go and it took me over three hours. This is when my feet were really messed up. There was another competitor, a woman, who last year got pulled out of the race because she was stung by a scorpion. She had walked with me through most of the night. We were coming across this huge plane of big rocks. They were really sharp and my feet were really, really hurting, and at some point I just got mad and frustrated and thought, I’ve just got to do something different. I finally started running with about three miles to go and after a while my feet just stopped hurting because they were numb. We got to the finish and I lost it and completely broke down. I was very, very emotional and it was funny because I heard her say “give the guy some room,” and I looked up and there was a TV crew from France with the boom mike and everything. I thought, oh gosh guys, really? This is when you are going to get my picture, when I was just completely laid bare. That was very memorable for me.

Sunset at camp.

Was the race anything like you had expected?

Ed: A lot of it was. My endurance was fine, my training had been fine. I didn’t have any problems with that. My food I had experimented with. A lot I expected how tough it was going to be. I didn’t expect how hard the terrain was to run on. I think knowing what I know now, if I were to go back and do this again, I would have worn different shoes. The rest of the stuff was what I thought, but on a grander scale; everything was much more.

The rocky terrain of the Moroccan desert.

Would you run the race again in the future if you had the chance?

Ed: Wow, that’s a really interesting question. People have asked me that and of course at the end of the race I was like, yeah, right. It was an incredible experience, and I would probably run it again for the experience. On one hand, if I went back and took 20 hours off of my time, it’s not like I would get anything different than what I got. But it was an incredible experience, so I would say that I wouldn’t say I wouldn’t go. I am going to have to wait and see. I wouldn’t say no.

Though still a little sore from the grueling race, Ed is back in Chico, ready to tackle the next big race. This summer he will captain a relay team in the Reno-Tahoe Odyssey and work the Western States 100 mile race as well as some small local races. In the near future he hopes to conquer the TransRockies and a 50-mile race.

To see more pictures of the Marathon des Sables and Ed’s experience click here.